Do your winter plans involve heading someplace warmer? Airports can be crowded during the winter months as travelers take vacations or visit friends and family for the holidays.

Here are some tips to help you navigate the hectic winter travel season.

Be The Early Bird

Flying out first thing in the morning may mean having to get out the door sooner than you’re used to, but there’s an upside: An early flight can keep you on schedule as delays tend to happen later in the day.

Being early may also pay off when you’re booking your flight. According to CheapAir.com’s 2018 Airfare Study, the best time to find a flight deal is around 66 days ahead of your departure date.

Pack Like A Pro

Luggage can slow you down if you over-pack, or your bag gets lost or delayed. Try these tips to travel light:

  • Stick with just a carry-on if possible.
  • Wear multiple layers so you have less to pack.
  • Roll clothes, rather than folding them.
  • Keep essentials—your passport, cash, credit cards, necessary medications and valuables—in your carry-on.

If you can, try shipping gifts instead of packing them. If you do bring presents with you, leave them unwrapped, as security will likely need to check inside.

Most importantly, keep a list of everything you pack. This way, if one of your bags is lost or delayed, you’ll have an inventory of everything that’s missing.

Expect A Smooth Ride, But Plan For A Bumpy One

Getting delayed, bumped or having your flight cancelled due to bad weather can put a damper on winter travel plans. Being ready for these kinds of scenarios can make them easier to manage. Here’s how to prepare before you get to the airport:

  • Consider booking your flight with a credit card that offers priority boarding. This could help you avoid getting bumped.
  • Check in online to secure your seat as early as possible. Follow the airline on social media and check their website to stay updated on flight schedules.
  • Add the airline’s number to your contacts. If you get delayed or bumped, you can call the airline directly instead of standing in a long line at the terminal.
  • Charge your phone and keep the cord in your carry-on. Consider a portable charger if you’re worried about finding somewhere to plug in.
  • Pack plenty of snacks for everyone in your party. If you’re bringing kids along, pack non-electronic activities to keep them busy: coloring books, travel-sized board games, a deck of cards or something to read.

If You’re Delayed, Bumped Or If Your Flight Is Cancelled:

  • Ask the airline if they’ll automatically re-book you or whether you’ll need to find a replacement flight on your own.
  • Check the airline’s compensation policy for delays, cancellations and seat denials. The Canadian Transportation Agency mandates that travelers receive compensation for these situations, but it’s up to the airline to determine how much.

    Ask about meal vouchers and/or hotel accommodations to be provided until you’re able to resume your trip.

  • Air travel can be stressful at any time, but even more so in winter when fellow passengers are crowding the airports. Fortunately, with a little planning, your winter flight can be as pleasant as possible!

No matter when or where you travel, RBC Insurance has the right travel insurance coverage for your needs.

Click to get a travel insurance quote.

 

This article is intended as general information only and is not to be relied upon as constituting legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. Information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date but we do not guarantee its accuracy and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or any of its affiliates.